The 2019-20 National Interscholastic Coaches Association All-America Diving list includes 100 athletes, including a talented trio from Connecticut.
Thriving with their dives for their respective teams this past fall, Elisabeth Katz of Weston, Emma Gravgaard from Brookfield and Greenwich resident Annie Bingle each earned All-America honors.
Gravgaard, who will take her diving skills to the University of Pittsburgh in the fall, produced four standout seasons on the 1-meter diving board for Brookfield.
“She transformed the diving program at Brookfield,” Brookfield girls swimming coach Jason Paige said. “Emma made the other divers around her significantly better. She was a great teacher and helped the other divers learn new dives.”
Paige credited Gravgaard for instilling confidence in her teammates to challenge themselves on a regular basis.
“The Brookfield diving program would not be where it is today without Emma,” Paige said. “Through the dual meet season, she was a constant for us on the board. We knew we were going to get a great effort from her.”
Gravgaard registered a third-place finish on the 1-meter board at the CIAC State Open Championships in the fall. She earned a total of 474.15 points over 11 dives for a third-place showing.
At the Class M Championships, Gravgaard won the title, amassing 448.25 points.
“We knew she was going to finish in one of the top five places during the championship portion of the season,” Paige said. “As the championship season went on, Emma got more comfortable with the 11-dive list. At the Open, it all came together for her and that catapulted her. Emma’s performance at the State Open was outstanding.”
Paige noted that Gravgaard was trained by Brookfield diving coach Kelly Harding in her freshman and sophomore years and Tim O’Brien as a junior and senior.
“We are thrilled that Emma is going to dive at Pittsburgh,” Paige said. “It’s a great diving program out there and she’s very excited to experience the college format.”
Gravgaard has also spent the past four years honing her diving skills for Whirlwind Diving under the direction of coach Joe Somma.
The Bobcats should be led on the diving board by Mykayla Lavery and Nora Gravgaard, Emma’s younger sister, this fall. Lavery finished third at the Class M finals, while Nora Gravgaard took sixth.
“They have learned a tremendous amount from being around Emma,” Paige said.
Bingle earned All-America diving accolades for the second straight year. She dove for Sacred Heart Greenwich as an eighth-grader, before flourishing for Greenwich Academy as a freshman and sophomore. She is transferring to Greenwich High this fall and joining the Cardinals’ traditionally strong swimming/diving squad.
“Just like the first year I made All-America, it’s a huge honor,” Bingle said. “Most of our high school performances are in state, so to be compared to the best divers around the country is a great accomplishment.”
At the 2020 NEPSAC Championships, Bingle posted a second-place finish, with 446 points over 11 dives. The FAA Championships also saw her place second (445.65) for Greenwich Academy.
“The season went really well,” Bingle said. “We had a new member of our team, Grace (Wu), who was a good addition. She dives with me outside of school, so it was fun to be a part of the team with her.”
Bingle is eagerly anticipating her next challenge of competing for Greenwich High School and against FCIAC foes.
“I’m super excited,” Bingle said. “I have known a lot of divers from USA diving, so I know the FCIAC includes a great and talented group of divers.”
Diving became Bingle’s sport of choice after she was a gymnast as a youngster.
“When I was little I stopped doing gymnastics and started to dive, and from then on it’s always been my sport,” said Bingle, who dives for the Marlins Diving Club (YMCA of Greenwich), throughout the year under the leadership of coach Dylan Korn.
Bingle, a member of the Marlins for several years, has been back on the diving board for a few weeks, since pools reopened after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the pandemic, we had about three months off, which was the longest anyone on our team had ever taken a break,” said Bingle, who aspires to dive at the collegiate level. “I’m lucky enough to have a trampoline, so I was able to stay fit with some dry land training.”
Katz, who will continue her diving career at UConn, recorded a second-place finish at the 2019 State Open (503.15 points). She captured the 2019 Class S diving title with 434.45 points.
“She was a major contributor to our program,” Weston girls swimming coach Brandon Barone said. “The progress she made since she joined the program as a freshman was exponential. Her work ethic was outstanding — she worked harder than anyone.”
Barone was especially impressed with Katz’s consistency, confidence and competitiveness.
“She was fearless,” Barone said. “She was willing to go out there, especially on days where she wasn’t feeling 100 percent and nail her dives.”
Katz, who set Weston six and 11-dive records, also served as a role model to her diving teammates.
“The other divers wanted to improve, because of her,” Barone said. “This past year, we had a fairly young diving program. It was Elisabeth, two juniors and four or five freshmen. So she pushed the younger divers forward through her training. We’ll miss her points, she’s going to be a tough person to replace.”